Different Languages, One Voice

The Boulder Creek Choir and Band to entertain audiences in seven countries

By Emma Suttell

It seems like almost everyone has heard Stevie Wonder’s famous quote, “Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand,” but for music students at Boulder Creek High School, this is something they live by.

For students pursuing the arts at Boulder Creek, performing is a year-round endeavor that doesn’t stop at the end of the school year. Band and choir students host concerts several times a year that are open to the community, but for some students, when summer arrives, along with it comes the chance to move outside of their comfort zone and perform elsewhere. Continuing their musical journey this summer, several Boulder Creek students will join the ranks of the Arizona Ambassadors of Music and embark on a European tour with over 200 other high school students from around the state to perform at overseas venues and immerse themselves in the diverse culture of Europe.

Led by concert tour music directors William Richardson and Joseph Johnston, students will be visiting seven countries in only 16 days, a whirlwind trip that students won’t soon forget. Superior students from choir and band programs around the state are hand-selected and nominated by their teachers to attend the trip, one that provides students with experiences to sightsee, experience culture in several different countries, and perform several concerts for unfamiliar-yet-welcoming audiences.

For the past several months, students have gathered in masses and spent hours learning about different cultures, the countries they will be visiting, and giving presentations to their fellow students about various cultural aspects such as cuisine, traditions and the day-to-day lifestyle of the locals, all to ensure they will be confident upon entrance to each country. The program provides for a unique study abroad opportunity in which students not only have the opportunity to become a global citizen—a well-known term at Boulder Creek for someone who is well-versed in travel and other culture—but to engage in musical enrichment and guided tours with fellow students.

While learning about the untraversed lands ahead of them, students have also been preparing a challenging repertoire for several performances in Europe and an official send-off concert for friends and family. The repertoire the students perform is breathtaking and ambitious for young students, challenging even the most experienced student musicians.

Students are given the opportunity to perform in England, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy and German. They are also offered college credit that can be transferred to several universities.

Class of 2019 graduate Jessie Durocher is one of many looking forward to using four humanities credits earned on the trip to help accelerate her academic career in college. To learn first-hand about the foreign countries they visit, students are encouraged to mingle with locals and immerse themselves in the culture. A 2017 European tour alumni, Durocher notes this was fairly easy to do on the trip, recalling “locals were so welcoming and even stopped some of us to ask how (the students) got into music.”

Among the students embarking on this year’s voyage are several choir and band students from Boulder Creek. The program was so memorable in 2017 that one of the students dedicated one more summer to joining the Arizona Ambassadors of Music on their European Concert Tour. For Durocher, the European Tour will be the culmination of her high school career and her last opportunity to perform alongside some of the familiar faces she has grown up with in the Boulder Creek Choir Program.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how much has changed and getting to experience the cities even more this year,” Durocher says. “The program has grown my passion for music by opening my eyes to so many different music types. Yes, we may speak a different language, but we all speak the language of music.”  


– Emma Suttell is an incoming senior at Boulder Creek. You can find more of her work at andthenemma.com.

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